“It’s an opportunity for students to be responsible for their own learning,” Quist said. And she’s already seeing benefits from that self-directed learning in her classroom. “They are engaged. They ask questions, they help each other,” she said.
Genius Hour is an idea currently used by media mogul Google. The company allows its employees to spend one hour a week mastering new skills or working on any project they choose. The idea in education is similar. The teacher provides a set amount of time for students to work on something they are passionate about it. They do research, and then must create some kind of presentation or end-product to share with the class.
“It allows them to think outside the traditional structure of school,” Quist said. It is the kind of creative thinking and problem solving she thinks teachers will be moving toward more and more in the future.
The Genius Hour was brought to Gobles by Mr. Scott Seiler, another third-grade teacher, Quist said. He heard about the project at his first Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) conference last year. Seiler implemented Genius Hour last year and was thrilled with the results. “Students showed very high levels of motivation,” he said. When students hit a roadblock, they would figure out how to get what they needed. They tackled new technology and worked together, he said.
“Genius Hour gets students to problem solve with known and unknown tools,” Seiler said. “I learned some Google features, too!”
As the entire third grade begins deploying Genius Hour this year, Quist is thankful for the atmosphere of teamwork at the elementary school. Genius Hour is just one example of how teachers work together to bring innovative and exciting initiatives to Gobles.
“We have an incredible staff that really works hard to make sure each kid learns,” she said. “I’m thankful for a staff that’s so dedicated to students. Teamwork is crucial and we have it here in Gobles.”